Recess is a regularly scheduled period in the school day for physical activity and play that is monitored by trained staff or volunteers.1,2 During recess, students are encouraged to be physically active and engaged with their peers in activities of their choice, at all grade levels, kindergarten through 12th grade.1,3

Recess benefits students by:1,4-7

  • Increasing their level of physical activity.
  • Improving their memory, attention, and concentration.
  • Helping them stay on-task in the classroom.
  • Reducing disruptive behavior in the classroom.
  • Improving their social and emotional development (e.g., learning how to share and negotiate).
Recess Data and Policy

Keep Recess in Schools [PDF – 337 KB]—This data brief defines recess, provides a snapshot of current recess practices in the United States, and highlights ways to improve recess through national guidance and practical strategies and resources. This was developed by Springboard to Active Schools in collaboration with CDC.

Recess Strategies

CDC and SHAPE America developed the following documents:

Recess Strategies
Strategies for Recess in Schools [PDF – 7 MB]—Evidence-based strategies for planning and providing recess in schools to increase physical activity participation and improve academic achievement (e.g., performance, behavior, attention).
Recess Planning
Recess Planning in Schools [PDF – 5 MB]—Helps schools put the Strategies for Recess in Schools into practice when developing a written school recess plan.
Recess Planning Template [DOCX -97KB]—Provides a customizable template for schools to use when developing their school recess plan.
Physical Activity During School: Providing Recess to All Students [PPT – 6 MB] [PDF – 3.4 MB]—explains the benefit and importance of recess and CDC andSHAPE America’s new resources for recess.
Resources for Recess in Schools Promotion Kit [PDF – 675KB]—Promote the resources for recess to your partners and constituents.
Painted Play Spaces
painted play spaces

During the 2020–2021 school year, four local education agencies (LEAs) and one pilot school in Oklahoma implemented Painted Play Spaces on their campuses, reaching a total of 2,469 students. Learn more about how these efforts can enhance the play environments at schools by using colorful paint and stencils to create recess games.